Blizzard's latest expansion to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is set to release sometime this month. While we don't have an exact release date yet, Blizzard typically updates the game on Tuesdays. That only leaves the 18th and 25th as remaining release dates. A data mine of the latest Heroes of the Storm update indicates that Kharazim (the newest hero) is scheduled to be released on the 18th. It seems unlikely that Blizzard would provide significant updates to Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone on the same day, so for the time being we'll assume The Grand Tournament will release on the 25th.
With the release of the new expansion, 132 cards will be added to Hearthstone. You can pre-order a 50 pack of the expansion now and receive an exclusive card back, or you can wait for the expansion to release and buy packs with in-game gold or real money. Arena will be changing to offer a random pack from the original set of cards, the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion or The Grand Tournament.
Let's take a quick look at some of the standout cards that have been confirmed for the new expansion. Blizzard hasn't released all 132 yet, but we've seen enough to get a god idea of how things are starting to shape up.
Mana Cost: 3
Description: Whenever you target this minion with a spell, gain Divine Shield.
This is a great card for classes that buff their minions with spells. Priest is a great example because there are multiple cards that increase a minion's health or attack that are commonplace in Priest decks. You can use Power Word: Shield to activate the Divine Shield, run the minion into an opposing minion, then add Velen's Chosen to buff the card again and give it another Divine Shield. Paladin's with Blessin of Kings or Blessing of Might are another example of spells that would work well with Fjola Lightbane.
Mana Cost: 5
Description: Inspire: Add a random spell to your hand.
Going right along with the heavy RNG (random) focus of Hearthstone, the Nexus-Champion adds a random spell (for any class) to your hand every time you use your hero power. Imagine getting a Flamestrike as a Priest simply because you healed yourself? The minion costs one more than a Yeti for the same attack and health. It's not easy to kill a 5-health minion, which means there's a good chance the minion will remain alive for one or two hero power opportunities.
Epic and Rare Cards
Mana Cost: 10
Description: Costs (1) less for each time you used your Hero Power this game.
There are a few other giants in the game which cost less depending on the number of cards in your hand or various other factors. However, the Frost Giant costs less based on the number of times you have used your Hero Power. It doesn't even matter if the card was in your hand at the time. By the time you get to late game battles, you could easily play both of these cards for free whether you have the advantage or not. Your health doesn't need to be low and you don't have to have a bunch of cards in your hand like some of the other giants. You just need to have used your Hero Power.
Mana Cost: 2
Description: You can use your Hero Power twice a turn.
Inspire is a new activator in The Grand Tournament that relies on your Hero Power to activate. This minion synergizes very well with any cards in your deck that rely on Inspire. At only 2-mana, it works well during the early game, but also gives you a boost late-game as well. Imagine a Face Hunter at turn six, playing this card then attacking twice with their Hero Power. It's a scary thought without factoring in minions with Inspire abilities.
Mana Cost: 6
Description: Battlecry: Reveal a minion in each deck. If yours costs more, gain Taunt and Divine Shield.
There's a bit of RNG involved in this card, but if you win the joust you basically get a better version of a Sunwalker at the same mana cost. Even if you lose the joust, you still have a 5/6 on the board, which can be difficult to deal with. This obviously doesn't work well in aggro decks that focus more on low cost minions, but in other decks that have an even mana curve or even excel during the late game, this is a great minion.
North Sea Kraken
Mana Cost: 9
Description: Battlecry: Deal 4 damage.
The North Sea Kraken is essentially a late-game version of the Shaman's Fire Elemental. Granted, most consider the Fire Elemental to be late-game anyway, but with this 9/7 minion you get 4 damage immediately. That's enough to kill a good number of minions, while still leaving a 9/7 for your opponent to deal with. It's an expensive card at 9-mana, but the 4 damage makes it pretty good in the late game, especially for a neutral common.
Mana Cost: 3
Description: Divine Shield, Charge
This is a great early game minion. You can throw it down on turn three and take out a good number of minions while still remaining on the board thanks to the Divine Shield. If you get it any other time, you still get two damage without losing the minion, but the value definitely drops if you don't get this pretty early.
Mana Cost: 1
Description: Battlecry: Reveal a minion in each deck. If yours costs more, gain +1/+1.
This is basically a potential Zombie Chow without the negative effect of healing your opponent. Granted, a little RNG is required to get the full stats on this card, but if you can play it on your first turn and win the joust, this is a great minion to have on the board.
Druid of the Saber
Description: Choose One: Charge or +1/+1 and Stealth.
This is a great early game card for the Druid. At 2-mana you can play it on your first turn if you have Coin, and then give it Charge to take out a minion, or make it a 3/2 with Stealth so it survives at least one turn. This is good for early game removal or to give your opponent an early game headache.
Description: Battlecry: If you have a Beast, summon a random Beast.
While not as powerful as the Webspinner, this is still a solid card for the mid-game. The mana cost is a little high, but if you already have at least one Beast in play, you essentially get two cards for that 5-mana cost. Since you can get ANY Beast, this could offer an extremely high value if you get King Krush or very low value if you get an Ironbeak Owl or something similar. There's a bit of RNG involved, but more often than not it will be worth it.
Description: You can use your Hero Power any number of times.
One of the big new additions coming with Grand Tournament expansion is the Inspire ability, which activates certain minion abilities when you use your Hero Power. The Coldarra Drake allows the Mage to use their Hero Power an endless number of times so long as they have the mana to cover it. Not only does it give the Mage more attack power to clear the board or go face, it also gives Jaina the ability to activate those Inspire minions multiple times in a single turn. This is a great addition to an Inspire deck, but works well on its own too.
Description: Battlecry: Reveal a minion in each deck. If yours costs more, restore 7 Health to your hero.
This is basically a cheaper version of Guardian of Kings, only with the RNG factor of the joust. If you win the joust you get a 5/5 minion and seven health back, but if you lose the joust you simply end up with a 5/5 minion. While 5/5 for 5 mana isn't bad, the value here is definitely the hope that you win the joust. If you have a Guardian of Kings in your deck already, this isn't a bad replacement that can save you some mana, just don't rely on the health restore.
Description: Whenever a character is healed, gain +2 attack.
The Holy Champion is basically a mid-game Lightwarden. The advantage here is that the Holy Champion has 5 health compared to the 2 health of the Lightwarden. That means it has the ability to hang around a lot longer than the Lightwarden and will likely be a removal priority for your opponent.
Description: Deathrattle: Return this to your hand and summon a 4/4 Nerubian.
This is one of those cards that has high value if your opponent can't silence it. At 4 health Anub'arak won't survive long, especially as a late-game card. However, so long as it isn't silenced, you get a 4/4 Nerubian when it dies, and you can play Anub'arak again. That's pretty good value, but if you're playing Anub'arak every turn, you can't play much else that turn. This is a minion that works better when you're already winning a game, which lowers its value a bit. Still, this is a very difficult Rogue card to deal with under the right conditions.
Description: Deathrattle: Your Hero Power becomes "Deal 2 damage."
Shaman's have pretty decent weaponry as it stands, but the Charged Hammer adds a new element to their meta. We all know that there comes a point in a game in which a Shaman doesn't really care what totem he gets with the Hero Power. You do it because you have the extra mana. While the totems are all functional, they aren't always needed or even wanted (especially when you need the taunt totem and don't get it). With the Charged Hammer changing your Hero Power to inflict damage, it gives the Shaman a lot more versatility.
Fist of Jaraxxus
Description: When you play or discard this, deal 4 damage to a random enemy.
The big draw with this spell is the fact that you get to use the spell even if the card is discarded. Warlock has multiple ways to discard cards in their hand, and if this is one of those cards you don't have to worry as much about losing something important. There's still a bit of RNG involved in the it attacks a random enemy, but if you clear the opponent's board, it's direct face damage without having to worry about RNG.
Description: Battlecry: Draw 3 cards. Put any minions your drew directly into the battlefield.
At first glance a 10-mana minion generally isn't worth the value. However, in the case of the Varian Wrynn, there's a bit of RNG involved depending on your deck makeup, but you can essentially get three minions in additional to the Varian Wrynn when you play it. That's the Varian Wrynn plus up to three random minions for 10 mana. Not a bad value at all, especially if your hand is low in the late-game. The only concern is that you'll lose any Battlecry abilities from those minions, and Warrior uses a good number of minions with very useful Battlecry abilities.
There's still some time before The Grand Tournament is released, so keep an eye on Prima Games for more information on the cards and the new game mechanics being introduced.